The Problem of Knowledge in the Philosophical Doctrine of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

The Problem of Knowledge in the Philosophical Doctrine of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Hamburg, 1921. Reprinted in Gesammelte Schriften, Band 2, Philosophie und Gesetz -- Frühe Schriften, Heinrich Meier, ed., Metzler Verlag, 1997. Abstract reprinted in: Leo Strauss: The Early Writings (1921-1932), Michael Zank, ed., State University of New York Press, 2002.

Excerpt: Jacobi distinguishes two types of general attitudes of mind, the essential predicates of which are juxtaposed as “courageously believing” [mutig-glaubend] and “timidly doubting” [furchtsam-zweifelnd]. This distinction attains purely theoretical… More

Spinoza’s Critique of Religion

Spinoza's Critique of Religion, trans. E. M. Sinclair, University of Chicago Press, 1997. Originally published as Die Religionskritik Spinozas als Grundlage seiner Bibelwissenschaft Untersuchungen zu Spinozas Theologisch-Politischem Traktat, Akademie-Verlag, 1930.

Excerpt from the preface to the English translation: Considerations like those sketched in the preceding paragraphs made one wonder whether an unqualified return to Jewish orthodoxy was not both possible and necessary — was not at the same time the solution to the problem of the Jew… More

Philosophy and Law

Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors, trans. Eve Adler, State University of New York Press, 1995. Originally published as Philosophie und Gesetz: Beiträge zum Verständnis Maimunis und Seiner Vorlaüfer, Schocken Verlag, 1935.

Excerpt: The latecomers, who saw that the attacks of Hobbes, Spinoza, Bayle, Voltaire, and Reimarus could not be parried by defensive measures such as Moses Mendelssohn’s, agreed, initially, with the radical Enlightenment as opposed to Orthodoxy. Thus, to start with, they conceded… More

The Political Philosophy of Hobbes

The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis, trans. Elsa M. Sinclair, University of Chicago Press, 1952. Originally published as The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1936.

Excerpt: Hobbes’s political philosophy is the first peculiarly modern attempt to give a coherent and exhaustive answer to the question of man’s right life, which is at the same time the question of the right order of society.  There is perhaps no element of Hobbes’s… More

On Tyranny

On Tyranny: An Interpretation of Xenophon's Hiero, Including the Strauss-Kojeve Correspondence, Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth, eds., University of Chicago Press, 1961, reprinted 1991, 2000. Originally Published as On Tyranny: An Interpretation of Xenophon's Hiero, Political Science Classics, 1948.

Excerpt: While Xenophon seems to have believed that beneficent tyranny or the rule of a tyrant who listens to the counsels of the wise is, as a matter of principle, preferable to the rule of laws or to the rule of elected magistrates as such, he seems to have thought that tyranny at its… More

Persecution and the Art of Writing

Persecution and the Art of Writing, The Free Press, 1952.  Reprinted: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Excerpt: Plato substituted for it a more conservative way of action, namely, the gradual replacement of the accepted opinions by the truth or an approximation to the truth. The replacement of the accepted opinions could not be gradual, if it were not accompanied by a provisional… More

Natural Right and History

Natural Right and History, University of Chicago Press, 1953.  Reprinted: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

Excerpt: It would seem, then, that the rejection of natural right is bound to lead to disastrous consequences. And it is obvious that consequences which are regarded as disastrous by many men and even by some of the most vocal opponents of natural right do follow from the contemporary… More

Thoughts on Machiavelli

Thoughts on Machiavelli, The Free Press, 1958.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Excerpt: We shall not shock anyone, we shall merely expose ourselves to good-natured or at any rate harmless ridicule, if we profess ourselves inclined to the old-fashioned and simple opinion according to which Machiavelli was a teacher of evil.  Indeed, what other description would fit… More

What Is Political Philosophy?

What Is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies, The Free Press, 1959.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Excerpt: The meaning off political philosophy and its meaningful character are as evident today as they have been since the time when political philosophy first made its appearance in Athens. All political action aims at either preservation or change. When desiring to preserve, we wish to… More

History of Political Philosophy

History of Political Philosophy, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, Rand McNally, 1963.  Second Edition: Rand McNally, 1972.  Third Edition, University of Chicago Press, 1987.

The third edition of Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey’s History of Political Philosophy is the definitive introduction for students interested in the great thinkers of political philosophy. The book features long introductory essays on ancients such as Plato and Aristotle, medievals… More

The City and Man

The City and Man, Rand McNally, 1964.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Excerpt: It is not self-forgetting and pain-loving antiquarianism nor self-forgetting and intoxicating romanticism which induces us to turn with passionate interest, with unqualified willingness to learn, toward the political thought of classical antiquity. We are impelled to do so by the… More

Socrates and Aristophanes

Socrates and Aristophanes, Basic Books, 1966.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Excerpt: Since Socrates did not write books or speeches, we depend entirely on other men’s reports for our knowledge of the circumstances in which, or of the reasons for which, political philosophy was founded.  The difficulty is increased by the fact that the reports in question… More

Liberalism Ancient and Modern

Liberalism Ancient and Modern, Basic Books, 1968.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Excerpt: Liberal education is education in culture or toward culture.  The finished product of a liberal education is a cultured human being.  “Culture” (cultura) means primarily agriculture: the cultivation of the soil and its products, taking care of the soil, improving… More

Xenophon’s Socratic Discourse

Xenophon's Socratic Discourse: An Interpretation of the Oeconomicus, Cornell University Press, 1970.  Reprint: St. Augustine's Press, 1998.

Excerpt: The Great Tradition of political philosophy was originated by Socrates. Socrates is said to have disregarded the whole of nature altogether in order to devote himself entirely to the study of ethical things. His reason seems to have been that while man is not necessarily in need… More

Xenophon’s Socrates

Xenophon's Socrates, Cornell University Press, 1972.  Reprint: St. Augustine's Press, 1998.

Excerpt: The title Apomnemoneumata may be rendered provisionally by “Recollections.” Apomnemoneuein (or derivatives) occurs only once within the Memorabilia (I.2.31); there it means “resenting,” “remembering one’s grudge.” To use this passage for… More

The Argument and the Action of Plato’s Laws

The Argument and the Action of Plato's Laws, University of Chicago Press, 1975.  Reprint: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Excerpt: In the traditional order of the Platonic dialogues the Laws is preceded by the Minos, the only Platonic dialogue in which Socrates raises the question What is law?  It appears that not all laws are good or, at any rate equally good.  The Cretan laws were given by Minos, who was… More

Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy

Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, University of Chicago Press, 1983.  Reprint: University of Chicago, 1986.

Whoever is concerned with political philosophy must face the fact that in the last two generations political philosophy has lost its credibility.  Political philosophy has lost its credibility in proportion as politics itself has become more philosophic than ever in a sense.  Almost… More

The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism

The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism: An Introduction to the Thought of Leo Strauss, Thomas L. Pangle, ed., University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Excerpt: Humanism is today understood in contradistinction to science, on the one hand, and to the civic art, on the other.  It is thus suggested to us that the social sciences are shaped by science, the civic art, and humanism, or that the social sciences dwell in the region where… More

Leo Strauss on Moses Mendelssohn

Leo Strauss on Moses Mendelssohn, translated and edited by Martin D. Yaffe, University of Chicago Press, 2012.

From the publisher: Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86) was the leading Jewish thinker of the German Enlightenment and the founder of modern Jewish philosophy. His writings, especially his attempt during the Pantheism Controversy to defend the philosophical legacies of Spinoza and Leibniz… More